From fifth grade through his sophomore year at Strath Haven, John Harrar focused on basketball.
"I thought I was going to stick with the sport and play it in college," the 6-foot-8, 230-pound senior said. "But then the coach [longtime Panthers football boss Kevin Clancy] kept bugging me to come out for the team."
Harrar fared well as a junior defensive end and then, in the recently completed season, was highly impressive as a two-way end. He earned first-team all-Central League honors on both sides of the ball.
"I got stronger physically and learned from the coaches the ins and outs of the game's technical aspects," the 17-year-old said. "Now I'm leaning toward playing football in college."
Tuesday night on the hardwood, Harrar produced 26 points and nine rebounds to spark visiting Strath Haven to a 76-67 triumph over Central League rival Springfield.
Harrar has drawn recruiting interest in basketball from Army, Bowling Green, Cornell, Elon, Quinnipiac, and Rider.
"He's a game-changing athlete," Strath Haven hoops coach Dave McFadden said. "He's really good at picking apart a defense. He's very athletic for a kid his size."
With Harrar averaging 20 points and 10.4 rebounds, the Panthers are 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the Central League. "We're on the young side, so we're still trying to jell as a team," Harrar said.
Last season, McFadden's first in charge, Strath Haven went 19-5 and lost to Hatboro-Horsham in the first round of the PIAA District 1 Class 4A playoffs.
Because of injuries, the Panthers are without guard Patrick O'Kane (concussion) and 6-5 forward Cooper Driscoll (ankle). Driscoll rolled his ankle during warm-ups before Friday's 64-40 loss at Penncrest.
The team's other key contributors are wing Jeff Conner, 6-1 forward Ryan Morris, and guards Chris Rissini, Peter Foggo, A.J. Santisi, Jordan Graves, and Jimai Springfield.
Conner, who will play lacrosse at St. Joseph's, posted 17 points and eight boards in the win over Springfield. Foggo chipped in 11 points and four steals.
"The kids stick to our inside-outside approach on offense, and they play hard from start to finish," McFadden said.
Harrar has football scholarship offers from Lafayette, Maine, Monmouth, New Hampshire, and Virginia Military Institute. Army, Colgate, and Temple are likewise interested.
The Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Philly.com/Rally Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic is slated for Friday at Chester.
Westtown, ranked No. 1 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by the Inquirer, will take on Atlantic City, South Jersey's No. 3 team, at 6:15 p.m. That will be followed by Math, Civics & Sciences vs. Chester at 8 p.m.
Friendship Academy (Md.) vs. Bartram, 1 p.m.
Coatesville vs. Friends' Central, 2:45 p.m.
Glasgow (Del.) vs. Conwell-Egan, 4:30
Atlantic City vs. Westtown, 6:15
Math, Civics & Sciences vs. Chester, 8 p.m.